On Tuesday during Global News Hour at 6:30 p.m., Alberta’s new Premier Danielle Smith will give her first live provincial address.
It comes with a provincial election on the horizon amid a struggling health care system and with skyrocketing inflation hitting Albertans hard.
“It’s a critical address because it’s her first address, and probably the only address she’s going to have,” explained Mount Royal University political science professor Duane Bratt.
“Premieres and premiers don’t go to the airwaves like that unless it’s significant, unless it’s important.”
According to Smith’s press secretary, Rebecca Polak, she will focus on “an affordability crisis, delays in health care treatments and federal overreach.”
“The Premier will outline the government’s plans to address these challenges,” said Polak.
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Bratt expects that means putting money back in people’s pockets.
“This could include bringing back the end of the provincial gas tax, which could include utility rebates as well as possibly direct checks to Albertans.”
The leader of the NDP Official Opposition is calling for similar things around affordability.
“Whether it’s utilities, whether it’s tuition, whether it’s property taxes, whether it’s auto insurance, whether it’s higher taxes because of failure to index — all those kinds of things, she needs to talk about how she records the UCP to making things more expensive for families,” said Rachel Notley.
But many of these require money.
“The problem she’s going to run into is that Jason Kenney spent the rest before he left. He paid off debt and he made investments in the Heritage trust fund, so the financial kitty is closed,” Bratt said.
He suggests one option to fund these pledges could be borrowing against the surplus Alberta is forecasting for the spring of 2023.
In addition to affordability, Notley also wants Smith to dig deeper into the problems plaguing health care — but Bratt feels that’s unlikely.
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“It’s much more controversial. That should be a good news announcement,” he said.
“This is the appearance of doing something in a tangible way that will benefit Albertans.”
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